Tactical Review: Liverpool 4-0 Tottenham
Spurs boss Tim Sherwood felt that he could approach the Liverpool game differently than most teams have.
Firstly, he tried to add pressure on the Reds by saying that they might struggle to handle the role of title contenders, which Brendan Rodgers bounced back at him by pointing to the summer spending spree at White Hart Lane. He then set his team up cautiously which was a departure from Spurs’ usual high line.
Rodgers has been flexible with the way he has been setting his team this season and for this game he went with a 4-3-3 formation. He only made one change from his last starting eleven; Joe Allen gave way to Raheem Sterling, so Philippe Coutinho dropped to left side of Steven Gerrard while Jordan Henderson started on the right.
When Brendan Rodgers starts Luis Suarez in wide areas, he has a tendency of unleashing him on the struggling full-back and Kyle Naughton’s poor form had made him a ripe target. Unsurprisingly, Suarez started on the left of the three forwards against Naughton.
Tottenham had their usual 4-2-3-1 formation led by Roberto Soldado. Sherwood went with the back four narrowly packed across the width of the penalty area to force Liverpool to play out wide and cross, which would suit Tottenham’s physical edge.
Nabil Bentaleb sat in front of the back four with Gylfi Sigurdsson, while Sherwood swapped Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen again. So Eriksen had to cut in from wide left while Chadli would use his pace throug the middle. Aaron Lennon started on the right side of the attacking front three.
Sherwood intended to have his team drop deep and hit Liverpool on the counter
Just as the game started, Younes Kaboul conceded an own goal so Tottenham had to ditch everything they had planned and try to chase the game. The goal couldn’t come at a better time for Liverpool’s players as it took the pressure of winning off their shoulders.
Spurs had to push up and their restored high line, which played to the strengths of Liverpool’s front three. They made the situation worse for themselves by not pressing. It is important for midfielders to press for the ball when defenders are playing a high line. Spurs didn’t and they paid dearly.
Liverpool scored the second and the third goal to kill the game.
In the 58th minute, Sherwood used his last two substitutions by introducing Andros Townsend and Mousa Dembele for the ineffective pair of Lennon and Bentaleb. The intent was to open the game up and add more impetus to Spurs’ attacks.
Five minutes later Rodgers went for Allen in place of Coutinho as he wanted to close the game down. Liverpool returned to the diamond formation of recent weeks, with Sterling moving to the tip. Gerrard soon gave way for Lucas Leiva at the base of the diamond.
Liverpool had a comfortable win against a Spurs side that made too many mistakes. It is difficult to know if Sherwood’s tactics would have worked because his team conceded before the tactics were even tested.